Thursday, February 11, 2010

Beading Tutorial: Spiral Rope Chain

Pastel Spiral Rope with Peanut Beads

There is something very captivating about a coiling, whirling spiral shape. Perhaps because it is so often a part of nature - right down to our DNA - we are drawn to spirals in our furniture, hairstyles, and jewelry. One of the easiest ways to incorporate spirals into beadwork is with the easy and versatile spiral rope stitch.

I often recommend this technique for new beaders. It’s not a difficult stitch to master, and once the basic concept is understood, the possibilities are endless. It can be done with seed beads of any size. It can be increased, decreased and embellished with ease.

A basic spiral rope is made up of two sections - the core, and the outer spiral rows which wrap around the core. Many how-to’s for spiral rope use an equal number of beads for each. Although the results are pretty, there is usually a fair amount of thread peeking out between the core and the spirals. To make a really polished looking rope, I like to make the outer rows one bead longer than the core.

How to Make a Basic Spiral Rope:

Spiral Rope Tutorial

To make a rope with hidden thread, select two colors of seed beads in the same size. One color will be used for the core, and one for the outside of the spiral. Thread a needle with a comfortable length of beading thread, and pick up 5 core beads, and 5 outer beads.

Slide the beads down until there is a six inch tail. Holding the beads in place on the thread, stitch up through the core beads again, and gently pull the thread snug until the beads form two side-by-side stacks. Hold the beadwork so that the spiral beads are to the left.

Spiral Rope Tutorial

Pick up 1 core bead, and 5 spiral beads. Stitch up through the top 4 core beads from the previous step. Gently pull the thread snug, and nudge the new beads to the left so they are snug against the first spiral row.

Stitch up through the new core bead and pull the thread tight. Repeat these steps, adding 1 core bead and 5 spiral beads. Stitch up through 4 core beads and so on. Remember to stitch the new core bead into place at the end of each new addition.

Spiral Rope Tutorial

As a variation, you can use larger beads in the core. Determine the right amount of beads for each section by stacking the outer beads you want to use on a head pin until you have the desired length. Stack core beads on a second head pin until the length matches, then remove one bead.

Basic spiral rope is wonderful for lariats or to dress up an art glass focal. You can also create different textures by increasing the number of beads in the outer rows, or adding different types and sizes of beads.

Peppermint Pixie Spiral Rope Bracelet

To make my “Peppermint Pixie” bracelet, I started with 5 pink beads in the spiral, then increased gradually to 13 beads per row, and back down to five to finish the rope. The accent beads replace seed beads that are equal to their length.

For instance, the cat’s eye ovals are about 6 seed beads wide, so I would omit 6 seed beads each time I added an oval to a row. The Czech glass leaves take up about 3 seed beads, but I only omitted 2 for each leaf, because their weight and size adds a little more length to the row. Try out different combinations of beads with spiral rope chain for different textures!

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading

I would like to thank for providing the Cat’s Eye beads used in this piece. Inspirational Beading has not received paid compensation for including products or reviews in this blog post. I have shared my honest opinions about the products used in this design.


  1. What a nice little tutorial on the Spiral Rope! It's such a fun stitch.

  2. Thanks! This is one of those great techniques that you can go back to again and again. I'm always weighing it against another stitch when I need a necklace base. Sometimes it wins, sometimes it doesn't.

  3. Thank you for sharing your beautiful work, Mortira. This world needs more beauty and inspiration and people like you who promote creativity by sharing their talents.
    Your thoughtfulness glitters like your jewelry.
    All the best to you,

  4. Thank you, Marilyn! Beaders are a very generous group, and I'm always proud to be a part of it!

  5. Thank you so much, I've seen the spiral rope in a beading mag but couldn't understand it with their directions. Then I found you tutorial on the net and now I'm 20 cm into my new chain.
    Can't wait to try the double spiral.
    THanks Sanni from Germany!

  6. I'm making this right now! :)
    But there are gaps between the rows... The core beads are not exactly covered...
    I'm using 5 core beads and 6 spiral beads of the same size, which I've gradually increased to 8. Can you tell me if I should do something different to make the rows snug against each other like you have in that necklace?
    Thank you!

    1. The pastel necklace has a bit of illusion going on. I used the same color for the first and last bead in the loops as I did for the core, so it looks like one solid shape. The paleness of the beads with white thread helps, as well as the peanut bead in the center, which are slightly larger than the other seed beads.

  7. :) Now I understand!
    I just completed my bracelet, but next time I'll try it with the order of colours you mentioned. Thank you!

  8. Is it possible to make a spiral rope with all the same size beads? I like the looks of the chains that I've seen so far but I have only one size of bead and am a beginner to beading. Thank you for any help.

    1. Absolutely! Traditional spiral rope is made with all size 11/o seed beads. If you're going up in size, you might want to reduce the number of beads you use in each stitch, to make the rope look tighter.


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